These are the stories that generated the most 2020 interest (No. 6-10)

Published 12:19 am Thursday, December 31, 2020

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The year 2020 included 12 months of unique experiences that no one could have predicted.

It was packed with a global pandemic, elections and natural disasters that had plenty of specific, local impact.

For Port Arthur Newsmedia and its main entities — The Port Arthur News and — it was a year of growth as we hyper-focused coverage on Port Arthur and Mid-County, dedicating a reporter specifically to crime, courts and public response coverage.

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The results, in terms of readership, speak for themselves. experienced a little more than 3.2 million page views in 2019. That number skyrocketed to more than 5.5 million page views in 2020.

Our online statistics allowed us to track the stories that were most read over the past 12 months, and the following is that list, weighted heavily by our readers’ interest in crime and first response coverage.

In many cases, readers came back on multiple occasions to follow updates as new stories on the same subject were published over a few days or a few weeks. In those cases, the entries are combined into one.

These are 2020’s most read stories:

No. 6 – Police: Woman caught stealing wig coughs on police, tells them she has COVID

A Beaumont woman who reportedly attempted to steal a $75 wig by stuffing it into her purse told police she had COVID-19, then proceeded to cough in their faces.

Markisha Antoinette Castille, 26, was indicted Dec. 2.

According to the affidavit for Castille’s arrest, Beaumont Police were called to Hair World Beauty Supply on Avenue A, where the store manager told officers Castille tried to leave with the unpaid merchandise but the door was locked remotely by the owner.

While police were watching the surveillance video, she reportedly turned and coughed in the face of one of the officers, loudly stating she was sick and had the coronavirus.

The officer turned his face away from her but she leaned in to cough in his face several more times before being escorted to the patrol vehicle, the affidavit stated.

No. 7 – INDICTMENT: Nederland man, woman force victim into the corner during home burglary

A Nederland man and woman who reportedly made a man sit in a corner while burglarizing his home were indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury Oct. 7.

According to the affidavits for their arrests, Haley Renee Mudd, 28, and Jason Demery Weatherford, 42, knocked on the front door of a home in the 1100 block of South 15th Street in Nederland and when the homeowner opened the door, the couple pushed their way inside.

During the June break-in, Weatherford reportedly forced the male victim into a corner and made him sit down while the female grabbed the victim’s phone so he could not call for help.

Weatherford then stood next to the victim while the female began going through the victim’s belongings.

The victim told police the robbers were looking for money and the female took two credit cards from inside his wallet and his cellphone.

Military equipment is parked in a fenced-in area at Seventh Street and Austin Avenue. (Mary Meaux/The News)

No. 8 – Why the increased military presence in Port Arthur? Fort Polk has some answers.

In late September, many in the community were asking why there was an increased presence of military vehicles.

Some social media concerns even suggested a martial law-type scenario was coming. That proved not to be the case.

Kim Reischling, public affairs officer with Fort Polk, said the location was preparing to receive military equipment from the Port of Port Arthur and Port of Beaumont.

The equipment and the military personnel are preparing for big training exercises at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, located in central Louisiana. The training involves a rotation of soldiers from Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

Reischling called it realistic high speed training for soldiers.

The groups were spread out in Port Arthur. Two large white tents reminiscent of the ones Hurricane Harvey evacuees stayed in back in 2017 were located at the civic center, military equipment and soldiers were seen at a fenced in area on Seventh Street and Austin Avenue and a small number of tan tents were at Seventh Street and San Antonio Avenue.

More military personnel and equipment were at a spot along Houston Avenue in addition to equipment at a laydown yard near the Port of Port Arthur and a parking lot on Fourth Street near the police station.

Trucks line up Aug. 27 to respond to Hurricane Laura in Southeast Texas.

No. 9 – Thousands without power in Port Arthur, surrounding areas

On Aug. 27, thousands of homes and businesses were without power as Hurricane Laura moved inland.

Widespread outages, impacting more than 30,000 customers, are being reported in Port Arthur with thousands more in Nederland and the surrounding area. More than 100,000 customers are being reported without power in Jefferson County.

Massive telecommunications and internet outages are also being reported in the Port Arthur area.

Entergy Texas customers may see extended power outages as crews work to restore power. Given the intensity of the storm and the additional need for crews to follow COVID-19 precautionary measures, hardest-hit experienced outages for multiple days.

No. 10 – Dollar General theft attempt in Groves includes tow-truck block, runaway attempt, 2 arrests

An alleged shoplifting at Dollar General in Groves ended up with two Orange County suspects charged with evading arrest.

Police said a male and female entered the store June 1 at 3800 Main Ave., and ended up attempting to steal less than $100 of groceries — some of which included Pop Tarts, candy, meat, cake frosting and wipes — which would normally be a Class C misdemeanor.

Police said an employee used pepper spray on the couple as they left the store. A tow truck driver from Brian’s Wrecker Service saw the pair as they placed items in the back of a car and positioned his truck to block the car from leaving, Groves Lt. Robert Phillips said.

A male in the car was able to leave at a high rate of speed despite the help from the wrecker driver.

The duo left behind fled on foot, and the stolen items were recovered, Phillips said.

Approximately 90 minutes later, officers located two suspects in the 6100 block of Terrell — a quarter mile from the store.

“When they saw the officers, they began to evade on foot and were caught after a brief chase,” Phillips said.

Groves Police arrested Carlton Wolfford, 35, of Vidor, for felony evading arrest.

Also arrested was Jacienda Jones, 21, of Newton. She is charged with evading arrest.

Read the rest of the list at